A teen boot camp is designed to create experiences that will transform the behavior of troubled, defiant kids. These camps can be expensive and so one of the big questions that parents have is: Do they really work? In this article, we will look at the issues more closely, so you can decide if this is the right choice for you and your teen.
When a parent arrives at the decision to send their child to boot camp for troubled teens, there has usually been a lot of personal pain involved. Most parents do not take this decision lightly. First of all, it is expensive. Second, there are no guarantees. Third, they may struggle with the idea that by sending their teen away, they are giving up or abandoning them. If you haven’t come to this conclusion yourself, then your teen will surely point it out.
Although adolescence is a difficult time for teens and parents, some kids have more of a struggle with this transition. In fact, some do not make it through. We all have stories from our youth of troubled teens who slid down that slippery slope, never to return. Maybe they became drug users. Maybe they died in a car crash in which alcohol was involved or maybe they were lured into the world of crime. Although these are distinct possibilities for defiant kids who could benefit from teen boot camp, a more positive future is possible.
During adolescence, a teen struggles to create an identity that is separate from his parents. This task alone is fraught with peril because it means that the teen must reject the people who love him most in order to find himself. If the teen believes that his parents do not really love him, but only want to manipulate and control him, regardless of whether this is true or not, he will act from those beliefs and become a rebel of the values held by his parents.
This is where boot camp for troubled teens can be helpful because it takes the child out of his environment and creates an experience that allows the teen to see how his anger and resistance (whether justified or not) is creating his suffering. It also creates an experience where the child is forced to rely on himself and can start to believe in his own competence and ability to face the world. Obviously, the measure of success of teen boot camp depends on the child and his “fit” with the camp’s philosophy and practices and the skill level of the therapists involved and their ability to reach him.
Although there are many teen boot camps that are successful, they are others where bad experiences have happened and teens have actually died or were seriously injured, so it pays to do your due diligence in terms of checking the camp out. Although the goal of most camps is to drive your teen to the brink in order to have a realization about himself, some push the physical limits more than necessary and create a situation where physical safety may be at risk. This is why you must check things out.
If you are on the fence about sending your child to boot camp for troubled teens, there is an alternative solution. Most of the techniques used in these camps are behavioral and parents can easily learn how to use these strategies at home. You don’t need a degree in psychology to learn how to use and apply basic skills that create measurable changes in teen behavior.
An excellent alternative is an at-home behavioral program that was designed by a therapist who was once a troubled teen himself. Now a huge success story with his program used in almost two hundred thousand homes around the globe, he is a shining example of how simple behavioral techniques can affect a lasting transformation in a child. Of course, there are also the countless parents who have used his techniques to help change their kids behavior and the kids whose lives he has helped transformed in the school system and his private practice. This is an effective alternative to teen boot camp with a high success rate. The secret to success is to learn and apply the principles at home.
Learning simple behavioral strategies is a must for every parent. After all, we are creatures of habit, but habitual behaviors can be transformed. It is even better when the people who love us can participate in our transformation because that makes the victory that much more real.
For those parents who feel that things have gone too far—that they need outside help—teen boot camp is also a good option.
Laura Ramirez is an advocate of helping kids get their lives back on track with an at-home behavioral program like Total Transformation which was developed by a therapist who was once a troubled youth himself and understands the issues from the inside out.
She is also the award-winning author of the parenting book, Keepers of the Children: Native American Wisdom and Parenting which teaches parents how to raise kids to develop their strengths and lead fulfilling, productive lives.
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